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Nowhere Else on Earth (edition 2002)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141002069, Paperback)Although not a single cannon is fired in Josephine Humphreys's quietly ambitious Nowhere Else on Earth, the lives of the inhabitants of Scuffletown, a poor Indian settlement on the Lumbee River in North Carolina, are in every way affected by the Civil War. The demand for turpentine, their principal industry, has dwindled to nothing. When they are not fending off or involuntarily "supplying" Union soldiers and marauding gangs, they are hiding their sons from the macks, their hostile Confederate neighbors (pink-faced Scottish farmers with names like McTeer and McLean), who are rounding up Scuffletown boys for forced labor in forts and salt works, from which few have returned.
Sixteen-year-old Rhoda Strong has seen both her brothers disappear into the woods to join this gang, headed by the handsome, charismatic Henry Berry Lowrie, the hope of Scuffletown--who keeps the young men alive through a series of crimes that inevitably escalate to match the cruelties of the macks. To her mother's distress, and to her own, Rhoda finds herself falling in love with Henry Lowrie, so obviously a marked man. When he notices her, and returns her love, she too becomes marked, dubbed the Queen of Scuffletown by her enemies and drawn into a larger history of suffering and revenge.
Writing from the vantage point of middle age, Rhoda resurrects the past, "hot as coals," in an obsessive act of remembrance, having studied and pondered her story for over 20 years.
One dog tooth is gone, and my monthly flow has dwindled to a spatter. I'm not as full as I used to be, my wrists are skinny, my knuckles are knobs. I'm starting to wear thin. This is the price of the years of thinking, the casting and recording of events and the frantic pen scratching past midnight, the hoarding of paper, the loneliness, the pages accumulating while I myself shrink down.Rhoda's richly detailed and beautifully sustained fourth novel will recall, in the best ways, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (also set in North Carolina, the most "Union" of the Confederate states), although Humphreys has given her heroine a fresh, strong voice, and in turn given a voice to Scuffletown. --Regina Marler
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:45 -0400)
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